A call to celebrate unique characteristics and individuality.
“Be who you are” is essentially the message behind every Parr book, subtle or not. His latest doesn’t pull any punches; it splashes self-acceptance across every page. “Be old. Be young. / Be a different color.” (Not that one ever has to remind Parr’s readers of that!) “Be silly” is paired with the obligatory shot of underwear on one’s head, while “Be brave” shows a tiny fish face to face with a shark (the shark just might be the bravest of all). A more-contemplative scene shows a cat peering curiously at a dog’s food bowl, with the guidance: “Learn in your own way.” (A few pages later two turquoise pigeons peer at a hot dog; a nifty literary nod.) A note to readers tells of Parr’s fourth-grade penchant for clip-on ties and purple sunglasses. To children everywhere, as well as to the child within himself, Parr declares: “Wear everything you need to be you.” Accompanying this invitation are six smiling figures, one a child with close-cropped hair, trousers, and a pink boa and another with an enormous Afro. Parr’s trademark bright colors and wild fashion abound, but the one thing that unifies all? A single line, curved into a smile.
A simple spin on Parr’s It’s Okay to Be Different (2001) but still worth shouting from the rooftops. (Picture book. 3-5)